Grace and peace in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Today many people are concerned with health. There are many tips on health. Do no smoke, for example. Why not? Because of the evidence that the risks of lung cancer and stroke are higher for smokers. However, the habit of smoking is so difficult to quit, so there are many books of advice for achieving this goal.
Losing weight is another example. It is important to maintain the correct weight for your body to prevent many health problems. So there are many books on this topic. It is possible to lose weight with a mixture of a restricted diet and exercise.
Of course, the health of the body has value. For most people, good health is associated with an attractive appearance and perhaps long life. But good health also is a blessing from God. He wants the benefits of the appearance and long life for us. Furthermore, our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19) and we have a responsibility to care for these temples.
But what if we do not have control of our health? What if you suffer from a serious and incurable, perhaps a fatal disease?
We can trust God in such circumstances. God has promised to hear our prayers for the sick. Dr. Martin Luther says in his explanation of the fourth petition of the Lord's Prayer in the Catechism that our daily bread includes good health and all other physical needs. In the case of serious illness, our Lord Jesus Christ and also His apostles showed the power of God to heal serious diseases. Today God can answer prayers for the sick with a miracle cure, but the advances of medical science is a work of God as well. Doctors are the instruments of God, but not everything depends on the skills of doctors, but on the power of God.
So in our text for today, "It came to pass that as He (Jesus) went to Jerusalem, he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. And going into a village, ten men came to Him who were lepers, who stood afar off, and lifted up their voices, saying, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. And when He saw them, He said unto them, Go show yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, as they went, they were cleansed."
However, this is not the end of the story. "Then one of them, seeing that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice, and fell on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks: and he was a Samaritan. And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten made clean? And where are the nine? None are found that returned to give glory to God except this foreigner? And He said, Arise, go, thy faith has healed you."
The Lord is not concerned only with physical health, but also with spiritual health. When He said to the Samaritan, "Your faith has healed you," He did not mean the healing of his leprosy. The Samaritan recognized that he did not deserve the restoration of his health, that it was a gift of God by grace alone. So he thanked and worshiped Jesus Christ and received absolution for his sins.
Indeed, physical health is not a guarantee of immortality or a happy life. Many people with perfect health still have a lot of anguish and fear. they may have anxiety about their health and on a deeper level, the fear of death. For each of us, there will come a day when our health will fail and we will die. At that time, a pure heart and a good relationship with God are more important than a lifetime of physical health. We have them when we confess our sins and receive complete forgiveness because of Jesus Christ. This is spiritual health.
But, we are justified before God by faith alone in Christ. If we remain in the faith through the Word and the sacraments, we can enjoy this life, no matter our difficulties and challenges, and anticipate eternal life with Christ. Because there is a book of advice on spiritual health, called the Holy Bible. It has a prescription for the serious illness of sin: our medicine is the body and blood of Christ.
The peace that passes all understanding be with each of you forever. Amen.
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